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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Make] Projects 

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build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

2-Mile Camera Remote 

Written By: Tom Rodgers 



BASIC Stamp 1 serial adapter (1) 
Hot glue gun (1) 
Multimeter (1) 
Needlenose pliers (1) 
Screwdriver (1) 
Serial cable (1) 

Soldering/desoldering tools (1) 
Wire cutters (1) 
Wire stripper (1) 
X-Acto knife (1) 

■ • 

Digital camera (1) 

/ used a Digital Concepts 3. 1 megapixel 
camera, about $30, but any similar, 
simple digital camera should work. It 
should have a fixed or auto focus and 
zoom, so that it doesn't need to be 
adjusted when it's first turned on. 

FRS radios (2) 

/ used the Kenwood FreeTalk EL, but 
I've tried to write the instruction so you 
can use any FRS (Family Radio Service 
band) radio. 

Electrical Tape (1) 

Audio jacks (2) 

Momentary switch (2) 

One switch is used for the camera's 

power and the other for the shutter. 

Sheet metal (1) 

such as aluminum flashing, or 

0.01 6"4"10" aluminum. Hobby line, part 


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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Project enclosure (1) 

Mini project board (1) 

Stereo plug (2) 

(cut from dollar- store headphones) 

BASIC Stamp 1 microcontroller (1) 

Socket (1) 
Parallax #450-01601 

Battery connector (1) 

Toggle switch (1) 

Submini toggle switch (1) 

Male header (1) 

Reed relays (2) 

Switching transistor (1) 

Resistor (1) 

Jumper wires (1) 

Adhesive rubber feet (1) 

Battery (1) 

Foam block (1) 

Paper (1) 

for making enclosure mock-up 


A few years ago, I was hiking with a friend along the ridge at Crater Lake in Oregon, and I 
saw a great spot for us to pose for a picture, on a cliff overlooking the lake. Unfortunately, 
the perfect place from which to take that picture was 250 yards away, over treacherous 
terrain. There was no way I could cover that distance in the 10 seconds allotted by my 
camera's timer. So I stayed with the camera and sent my friend ahead to pose on the cliff 
alone. I was right, it was a great shot, but I was sorry we couldn't both be in it. This gave me 
the idea to create a camera remote with enough range to let me take more interesting, 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

adventuresome shots than the standard timer or short-range remote would allow. It occurred 
to me that a handheld radio could be used as a remote control, enabling me to set up the 
camera in advance, and then go pose for an "action shot" anywhere in the camera's field of 
view. I could then trigger the camera with the radio. 

Step 1 — Open up the camera. 

• Open the camera and remove the 
circuit board; I used a scrap of 
masking tape to secure the 
camera's display. Find the on/off 
and shutter buttons on the circuit 

• This camera's buttons consist of a 
central disk surrounded by an outer 
ring. A small metal dome sits on 
the ring, and pushing the button 
flattens the dome, bringing its 
center down on the disk, which 
closes the circuit. 

• CAUTION: Watch out for 
the camera's flash circuitry; 
it can give you a shock even after 
the batteries are removed! 


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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Step 2 — Test the camera buttons. 

• The camera's circuit uses pull- 
down type buttons. When the 
button is not being pushed, the 
contact is kept high internally; 
when the button is pushed, the 
contact is shorted to ground. This 
may sound backward, but it makes 
the camera's circuit more efficient 
and less susceptible to stray 

• Set up the multimeter as a 
continuity tester, and connect one 
lead to the camera's ground. Then 
use the other lead to test the 
button's inner disk and outer ring. 
For this camera, the meter shows 
continuity between the inner disk 
and ground. This indicates that 
connecting the outer ring to ground 
signals a button push. 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Step 3 — Mod the camera buttons. 

• Solder a wire to the outer ring. Now the camera will register the on/off button as being 
pushed when this wire is grounded. Do the same to the shutter button. Put hot glue on 
each contact to secure the wire. 

• Finally, solder a third lead to the ground side of the battery pack. Now you can take a 
picture by shorting the shutter lead to ground! 

• Discard the on/off and shutter buttons, and reassemble the camera with the 3 leads 
extending through the shutter button's original hole. 

Step 4 — Add the control jack and new push buttons. 

• Solder the 3 leads to a stereo jack so that the camera's buttons can be hooked to the 
controller using a stereo plug. Then solder momentary push buttons between each button 
lead (on/off and shutter) and ground, so that the camera can still be used by hand. 

• Make a paper mock-up of the custom enclosure, then cut and bend the metal sheet to 
create the enclosure. Cut holes in the enclosure, mount the buttons and jack, and hot-glue 
the assembly to the camera body. 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Step 5 — Mod the radio's call button with new leads and jack. 

• The radio mod is similar, but you'll tie in to different parts of the circuit. Remove the cover 
and find convenient contacts for ground and for the speaker's signal wire, which is usually 
red. If it's not, just use a continuity tester to find the speaker wire that's not grounded. 

• Find the contacts for the radio's call button (not the push-to-talk switch, but the button that 
sends the radio's page tone). Solder leads to the ungrounded side of this button, the 
speaker signal contact, and ground (I took it from the LCD housing). Secure all contacts 
with glue. 

• Attach the 3 leads to a 1/8" stereo jack, connecting speaker to tip, call to ring, and ground 
to sleeve. Reassemble the radio. If you can't fit the jack inside the radio, glue it to the 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Step 6 — Assemble the time-delay controller circuit. 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 




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Following the schematic, mock up 
the arrangement of the components 
in the project enclosure, and make 
holes for the switches and wires. 
You'll need to trim the project board 
and the inside of the enclosure to 
make everything fit. 

The control circuit is built around a 
BASIC Stamp microcontroller, 
which has 8 input/output pins. The 
mini project board holds the parts 
in place, and wires are used to 
solder them together. Mount the 
microcontroller in the SIP socket 
so that it won't be damaged by the 
heat of soldering (first trim away 
the SIP's 2 extra holes). 

Using the wires from the radio's 
stereo plug, connect the radio's 
ground to the microcontroller's 
ground pin (VSS) and to the 
negative side of the 9V battery, 
then connect the microcontroller's 
VI N lead to the positive side of the 
battery. Connect the VSS, PCO, 
and PIC pins to the 3-pin header so 
that you can download the control 
program to the BASIC Stamp. 

Connect PO (on lead 7) to VDD 
(+5V) via the 10kW resistor, then 
connect it to the 2N2222 
transistor's collector. Connect the 
transistor's emitter to ground, and 
its base to the speaker's output 
signal. When no current flows 
though the transistor, the resistor 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

holds PO high. But when the radio's 
speaker applies a signal to the 
base, the transistor acts as a short 
and pulls PO low. 

• Connect P1 to the radio's call 
button so the controller can send 
an "acknowledge" tone by pulling 
the call button low. Pins 2 and 3 
control relays that can turn the 
camera on or off and take a 
picture. Remember to pull the 
stereo wires through the holes in 
the enclosure before soldering! 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Step 7 — Mount the controller and switches in the enclosure box. 

• After the circuit is assembled, put 
rubber feet on the bottom of the 
project board and hot-glue it into 
the enclosure. Then install the 

• I used a DPDT for the 
microcontroller's power and to 
disconnect the radio's call button 
from P1 when the controller is off. I 
also used an SPDT switch to 
disconnect the transistor's base 
from the speaker, and ground it 
instead, when I don't want the 
controller to detect a signal. Then 
the SPST switch can disconnect 
the camera's ground from the 
relays when I don't want the 
controller to be able to take a 
picture. These last 2 switches 
aren't needed, but they can be 
handy when troubleshooting. 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Step 8 — Program the microcontroller. 

• Connect the serial adapter to the 3-pin header (shown at right), and use a BASIC Stamp 
editor (free at ) to write and download the microcontroller's code 
(from re. .. ). Be sure that the "«" symbol on the 
adapter lines up with the grounded Vss pin. 

• Use a scrap of foam to hold the battery in place, and seal the enclosure. 

• My radio has a detachable belt clip, which I hot-glued to the enclosure. I added a 
Gorillapod tripod, and I'm all set! 

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2-Mile Camera Remote 

Step 9 — Go long! 

• To take your long-distance self-portrait, aim the camera and turn on the controller and its 
radio. Then take a second radio, tuned to the same channel, and go get into the frame. 

• When you're in position, press the call button. Once you hear the acknowledgment tone, 
you'll have about 8 seconds before the picture is taken. A second tone will let you know 
when the cycle is complete. 

• If you plan to leave the setup unattended for a while, add a note with an explanation and a 
phone number, so that no one calls in the bomb squad! 

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order. 
This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 15 . 

Related Posts on Make: Online: 

Flashback: 2-Mile Camera Remote 
Weekend Project: 2-Mile Camera Remote 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 0-31 1 0:41 :02 PM. 

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